Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid welcomed the new Israeli state budget for the next two years at a press conference on Saturday, ending “three years instability â.
Bennett also pledged he would “hand over” the prime minister’s post to Lapid in 2023, as agreed.
The Knesset passed Israel’s 2022 budget early Friday morning, removing the last hurdle of complex legislation after the 2021 budget was approved early Thursday, and closing a major success for Bennett’s unlikely ruling alliance of eight ideologically parties disparate.
Failure to vote on the 2021 budget before November 14 would have resulted in the dissolution of the government and snap elections, the fifth in two years.
By adopting the budget, “we have completed the complex process of pulling Israel out of three years of instability,” Bennett said. âThe government is stable. It will last until its end.
He said the coalition had “adopted a budget that will ensure political and financial stability … The fact that we are not in the middle of the fifth round of elections is a blessing and a great gift for the State of Israel”.
âTomorrow morningâ¦ we start,â he said.
A power-sharing deal will see Lapid take over as head of government in September 2023, for the remainder of the government’s 4.5-year term, unless the government collapses before then.
Bennett was recently reported by the media for expressing doubts about rotating the post of prime minister. Asked about the matter on Saturday, he vowed to fulfill his obligation and transfer the lead role to Lapid when the time comes.
“We will implement the rotation and the government will end its days,” he said.
Lapid, standing next to him, nodded: âI’m convinced.
The coalition gave final approval to the state budget of NIS 573 billion ($ 183 billion) for 2022, well ahead of its March 2022 deadline, as the legislation passed third reading shortly after 3 a.m. on Friday. . The 2022 budget was adopted by 59 votes in favor and 56 against in the 120 seats of the Knesset.
The 2021 budget voted on Thursday was much more urgent for the coalition, because its failure by the November 14 deadline would have resulted in the automatic dissolution of parliament. The 61-59 vote saw lawmakers vote along coalition and opposition lines just after 5 a.m. on Thursday, after a sitting that lasted all night.
The NIS 609 billion ($ 194 billion) spending plan for 2021 was the first budget Israel adopted since 2018, amid a prolonged political stalemate that saw successive governments fall before they could come up with a proposal. budget in the Knesset.
The coalition’s success was also seen as a rebuke from former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been unable, and at times unwilling, to pass a new budget since 2018 amid a series of ‘political dead ends, and who predicted that the coalition would be incapable of effectively leading the country given the competing ideologies at play.
The new legislation includes a wide range of reforms to lower the cost of living, relax regulations, reform the agricultural sector, raise the retirement age for women, implement banking changes, increase the budget of the education and improving health care, among other measures.
Separately in Saturday’s press conference, Lapid said Israel informed US officials in May of its decision to ban six Palestinian human rights groups over their alleged connection to the Popular Front terrorist group. Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). He added that European officials have also been briefed and received updates throughout the process.
Shin Bet officials traveled to Washington last week to brief U.S. officials on the terrorism designation. Israel has yet to take further action against the six groups.
The Foreign Minister also commented on the US Commerce Department’s decision to blacklist two Israeli phone spyware companies, NSO Group and Candiru.
âNSO is a private company, it is not a government project, and therefore even if it is designated [as engaging in malicious cyber activities] it has nothing to do with the policy of the Israeli government, âLapid said.